Time in tangles.

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Art by: 9jedit

All my dreams have already been accomplished. Somewhere in the future, everything that is meant to be has already happened. My job is only to remove the obstacles in my way, to clear the path my future self has already walked and meet her there, on the other side of fear.

Lately, I have been plucking at the tangles in Time (mostly because I’ve grown significantly older), wondering at how many of my worries I can actually control. Michelangelo believed that the sculpture was already present in the block of stone, that you only had to find your way to it. In the same way, I must carve a path to what is already there. I tell myself I am not stepping into newness, not plunging headfirst into the unknown. No, it’s strange but I am actually going home — home where I am meant to be, a home that has always, always been waiting for me somewhere in the future. My longing is for the person I am to become.

And yet much of who I am going to be comes from who I was before.

Much of adult life has been a slow return to old loves, to passions gone cold. Once I had graduated from the watchful eye and stern disposition of formal education, I simply bounced back in shape to what I had been before. Like a rubber band, I was stretched out over the years, meant to fit every kind of shape (a diligent student, a good daughter, a promising member of society, a “success”…). Now that I’ve bounced back, I am not the same. Of course. But there’s nothing to do about that. You can’t change the past. You can ignore it or remember it differently, you can add or subtract meaning, you may write it or tell it whichever way you wish, exaggerating or undermining any number of details. But you can never change that it happened the way it did. Besides, what a waste of time it is to chase the past, to look at it not to learn from it but to live through it. Very much like a dog chasing its own tail, it is a futile endeavour and you only end up hurting yourself…

Now to make myself understand what I already know to be true… It’s a slow journey, it always is. Yet ironically, you can only tell how far you’ve reached by looking back to where you were before.


Note: I’m still alive! 😂 And happy to be posting again ^^ And as I read this post again, I realise part of the first paragraph is very likely inspired from the poem by Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi I mentioned in a previous post:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

On writing.

young adult old soul writing magic realism

Do you know how your voice gets rough after you have just woken up? I think something similar happens with writing when you don’t write for a while. My language gets rough from disuse, my pen gets tongue-tied. It takes a little time for me to regain my bearings, to know where I am going with an idea once it has passed through my head and has flowed to the tip of my pen. I experience momentary amnesia, as though I had never written before in my life and had just been handed a pen. How do I operate this contraption? How does one write? How did I manage to do it before? How can I replicate my earlier writing?

It’s always like this in the beginning: an initial awkward phase, an embarrassed attempt at catching up.

“Oh hey, how have you been? Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Yeah haha, just…been busy and stuff, you know how it is.”

“Yeah, tell me about it, hah…”

“Soooo, what have you been up to?”

But after a while, it’s like falling into the familiarity of an old friend. After the habit of writing has taken form again, I no longer have to tiptoe around it, afraid of committing another faux-pas. I can be honest, too. I can say:

“Writing, you’re great and all, but I kindof hate you sometimes.”

And writing will be honest and say:

“Yeah, me too. You’re so flighty sometimes — you jump from one idea to the other and you don’t finish half of what you start. Your notebooks are filled with stuff you’re never going to finish. And we need to talk about all those run-on sentences and complex structures you use. Also, that’s not how you use a semi-colon.”

Writing is a terrible passion to have; I wouldn’t recommend it. But I’ve said it before: I am helpless to it. I have surrendered utterly and completely after years of denial, of convincing myself I was better off as something else, nurturing some other harmless passion like puzzle-making. It’s what I feel called to do, in a way. And it’s time I stopped rejecting the very thing I’ve been praying the Universe for.

Besides, there are benefits to it, too. Writing keeps me real — in no uncertain terms. It tethers me to myself, helps me to process things I would otherwise never notice. Writing provides a peek into myself, a reflection from the corner of a mirror. It is one of these things without which I feel I am incomplete. It’s like chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips. At this point, it is that central to my identity.

I wish it wasn’t, truly. Life would be so much easier without this kind of passion hindering me. I would be great at not writing, better than I am at writing, actually. I wouldn’t have to try to explain what it is I write about. I wouldn’t have to dissuade people from wanting to read my writing by saying:

“It’s just…it’s weird. It’s not fictional, but it’s also not non-fictional. It’s based off of reality, you see, but actually…”

But you know, que será, será. Or in the words of Lemony Snicket:

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”

So I’m embracing it wholeheartedly: I’m a writer.

I’m not the best one around, my stories aren’t the prettiest, my characters aren’t that well fleshed-out and I could use some help with semi-colons and sentence structure. But in spite of all that, I am a writer. An imperfect writer. Before, I was an imperfect person who happened to write. Now, though the difference may seem small, everything has changed.


Note: I have used a semi-colon in this blog post and I am hoping against all hope that I have made correct use of it 😂. It’s just my favourite kind of punctuation. After the dramatic interrobang (?!), of course.

Putting the stars back.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: Chootalks

There are times when I need to leave my brain behind.

And I don’t just mean my overthinking, my overly critical mind. But everything. All of my brain, save for practical functions like recognising danger.

I just need to air my mind out, to not carry around all my thoughts and experiences and history with me wherever I go. Because there’s this person I have to be — that other people count on me to be. It is a person I have chosen myself, as we all do when faced with the challenges Life poses us. We all reach difficult situations, turning points where we have to decide what kind of person to be.

Are we the kind of friend who leaves well enough alone when an upset friend assures us they are fine? Are we the kind of person who probes? Are we the kind of significant other who hates conflict, who would rather wait for tension to pass, unaddressed? Or are we the kind of person to meet it head on, ready to make or break? Would we rather be hurt or hurt someone else?

We carry all this and a million more choices in our every step. Because that is who we choose to be.

But I’ve discovered I need a break from my choices.

Whether it is as a friend, a sister, an employee or a young woman, a twenty-something. I need to remove all these skins, these layers of identity and air out my inner self. It does me so much good to be anonymous like this: to be just a girl with no worries or concerns for the day.

So I walk and walk and walk until I can’t feel my feet, until I’ve forgotten they were aching or even there. I go where I want to go. This Saturday, it was an unknown city — a passing place along the motorway where people stop for a while and then…vanish. It’s hard to believe anyone lives here. It feels like a reflection of a city: a wavering image in a puddle somewhere in another world. Maybe this is all a dream, a scene playing in someone else’s mind.

I walk and I explore, I poke my nose in the unknown, tiptoe past too reasonable boundaries set by anxiety.

It feels like opening a window in a closed-off room, like putting the stars back in the sky.

Imbroglio.

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Art by : Alexandra Levasseur

I am having too many thoughts again.

All of them orbit around my head day and night, at their own paces, each one with their own sunsets, their individual low and high tides. I feel like the lamplighter in The Little Prince, who lights and puts out the street lamp on his planet some 1440 times every day.

There is not much time for anything else. As I tend to these overgrown thoughts, all else falls into a corner of neglect and I worry even more.

And that’s the problem isn’t it?

I am unable to dedicate myself wholly to one thing. Worry nags in the back of my mind, creating bumps in a moment that otherwise flows like river-water. I do not allow myself be taken by the moment. There’s just too much going on, too much to worry about. And I feel guilty if I don’t worry. I feel guilty for enjoying myself when I should be working to get things done.

It’s like kissing someone while thinking about someone else.

Evicted out of the present moment, I am neither here nor there. Instead, I watch on the situation, worrying, gnawing at my nails.

I have so much to catch up on that I act like every moment not spent working on my problems is a stolen one. I feel guilty for living in the moment, for not being busy.

And that, that is how I, how we lose inner peace.

By giving worries more rights and power than they deserve.

I mean, I cannot do everything now. There are too many stories, too many people, too many musings and anecdotes and each deserves their rightful share.

After all, how am I supposed to split one second into the many, endless fractions I need? How do I find infinity in what is hopelessly ephemeral?


Quote of the day :

“I would have you consider your judgement and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.”

—Kahlil Gibran, On Reason and Passion, The Prophet

A piece of the Universe.

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Art by : Michelle Theodore

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

This is something Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi once said. Or wrote, I’m not sure. I just happened upon it one day, like an ancient gold coin glinting in a modern world.

Unconsciously, I have always held the notion that old civilisations were wise. Through their connections with the earth, the spiritual, the travellers of the world, they must have had such knowledge of their own selves. What they lacked in physical comforts, they made up for with the richness of their spirits. This is all, of course, unfounded assumptions, general impressions. In reality, it is more likely that I view them so much as “civilisations” or “peoples” that it does not occur to think of them as individuals. To see them as more than the most illustrious of their people.

Even now, I find it hard to believe that Rumi wrote this for someone of his time, to remedy issues had by people he knew. No, instead, as all marvellous writing ever has, it makes me feel as though it has been written for me. As though it were the solution to all my highly specific, 21st century problems. It fills in all my worries, like molten gold poured over the cracks of my consciousness. It smooths over every wrinkle of thought, each crease of worry.

I cannot believe sometimes that I received it, to speak crudely, for free. Who would give you an old gold coin to begin with? The world doesn’t work like that.

And yet here I have it, a gold coin glinting in my hand. Sometimes I consider my own views on Fate and reflect with deep gratitude that perhaps this is a piece of the universe that was sent to me. Maybe these words made it through the ages and civilisations, crossing borders, surviving modernity and translation to reach me, their meaning unscathed.

My fingers absent-mindedly turn this piece of gold over, mulling, considering, tracing over its engravings. I’m waiting, waiting without knowing how this gold coin will decide my fate once I set it free.

 

 

 

The wind chime.

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Art by: @hello_dongwon

These days, when I’m silent and staring off into space, I think a lot about you. Not other worlds nor imagined sanctuaries. Just you.

In the blur between my dreams and reality, symbolism says that you are a wind chime.

Delicate, with a kind of beauty only something so obviously fragile can have. I approach you timidly, fearing that I may step on the wind’s path and break the spell that is keeping the very atmosphere on edge. Yours is a song the universe has waited a long time to hear again, so even the birds hold their breath. The clouds do not move for fear of casting a shadow and depriving the world of the sight of afternoon sunlight dancing off your stained glass.

Summer’s breath carries the ocean spray, freedom flies with the winds. Honeyed light mingles with music, and the world sighs : “At last.”. The universe sinks into your melodies, finds itself in the tinkling of glass in a little seashell house by the cove.

A feeling of undeserved privilege washes over me. But when life gives you music, you dance.

Yes, you are a wind chime of a person. You turn the wind into song, the light into elusive patterns beating to your rhythm.

But when you break, you cut all those around you with your angry shards. Distantly, it dawns on me then that you are just glass, like I am just clay, in the end. You are straying fragments picked up from the ocean floor, as I am scattered remains of a star — both of us longing to be whole. You are like me, earthly, normal.

It was foolish of me to see in you more than there was. Or maybe it wasn’t. But it’s hard to think straight with glass shards in my hand and the silent accusation ringing traitorously in my head: “I should never have trusted you.”

Time, spare change and pocket lint.

You won’t be hearing from me for a little while, and I hope that’s okay— is something I should have written 3 weeks ago, before my sister’s wedding completely engulfed my timetable, when I knew already that I would be too keen on 2 a.m. conversations and too tired from them to write anything, to want to write anything.

But in my defence, I didn’t worry about it much, entirely too concerned with living the present moment for everything it was. Man, I’ve lived these past 3 weeks. So much so that for a long minute, it seemed impossible that it had been 3 weeks and not 2. It’s like reading a novel and getting really into it, so that when you reach the end, you think : “Is it over already?”. In a way, it makes me think—why aren’t my weeks usually packed with as much meaning? Why is life wishy-washy, the waters so low and still that any movement, however small, becomes a major event? I should always be living. Be it in the great or small ways. This is the kind of battle I am leading these days : pushing meaninglessness out of my life. Making every second worth it.

This is something I’ve realised ever since traveling abroad for the first time, I’ve understood just how much a day can hold. I’ve re-evaluated my perception of Time, and —most amazingly, most importantly— of the realm of possibility. I’m not careless about my minutes now, I don’t leave them behind in my pockets with the lint and stray change, don’t forget them in the slack of the workload. Instead, I string them together like a beaded necklace, giving all moments this continuous flow, where they succeed one another in a stream of events that is memorable, that does not make me feel as though I’ve woken up from a 2 or 3 hour spell, not remembering where the time has gone and who has robbed me of it…

I am the worst planner I know, in my defence. All that daydreaming and world-building has to come at a cost, you know.

But I’m learning. I’m trying. It’ll work out, somehow.